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      Special Upgrade 4 Tech Tips   12/27/2016

      Hi all! Now that Upgrade 4 is out and about in large quantities we have now discovered a few SNAFUs that happen out in the scary, real world that is home computing.  Fortunately the rate of problems is extremely small and so far most are easily worked around.  We've identified a few issues that have similar causes which we have clear instructions for work arounds here they are: 1.  CMRT Windows customers need to re-license their original key.  This is a result of improvements to the licensing system which CMBN, CMBS, and CMFB are already using.  To do this launch CMRT with the Upgrade and the first time enter your Engine 4 key.  Exit and then use the "Activate New Products" shortcut in your CMRT folder, then enter your Engine 3 license key.  That should do the trick. 2.  CMRT and CMBN MacOS customers have a similar situation as #2, however the "Activate New Products" is inside the Documents folder in their respective CM folders.  For CMBN you have to go through the process described above for each of your license keys.  There is no special order to follow. 3.  For CMBS and CMFB customers, you need to use the Activate New Products shortcut and enter your Upgrade 4 key.  If you launch the game and see a screen that says "LICENSE FAILURE: Base Game 4.0 is required." that is an indication you haven't yet gone through that procedure.  Provided you had a properly functioning copy before installing the Upgrade, that should be all you need to do.  If in the future you have to install from scratch on a new system you'll need to do the same procedure for both your original license key and your Upgrade 4.0 key. 4.  There's always a weird one and here it is.  A few Windows users are not getting "Activate New Products" shortcuts created during installation.  Apparently anti-virus software is preventing the installer from doing its job.  This might not be a problem right now, but it will prove to be an issue at some point in the future.  The solution is to create your own shortcut using the following steps: Disable your anti-virus software before you do anything. Go to your Desktop, right click on the Desktop itself, select NEW->SHORTCUT, use BROWSE to locate the CM EXE that you are trying to fix. The location is then written out. After it type in a single space and then paste this:

      -showui

      Click NEXT and give your new Shortcut a name (doesn't matter what). Confirm that and you're done. Double click on the new Shortcut and you should be prompted to license whatever it is you need to license. At this time we have not identified any issues that have not been worked around.  Let's hope it stays that way Steve
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      Forum Reorganization   10/12/2017

      We've reorganized our Combat Mission Forums to reflect the fact that most of you are now running Engine 4 and that means you're all using the same basic code.  Because of that, there's no good reason to have the discussion about Combat Mission spread out over 5 separate sets of Forums.  There is now one General Discussion area with Tech Support and Scenario/Mod Tips sub forums.  The Family specific Tech Support Forums have been moved to a new CM2 Archives area and frozen in place. You might also notice we dropped the "x" from distinguishing between the first generation of CM games and the second.  The "x" was reluctantly adopted back in 2005 or so because at the time we had the original three CM games on European store shelves entitled CM1, CM2, and CM3 (CMBO, CMBB, and CMAK).  We didn't want to cause confusion so we added the "x".  Time has moved on and we have to, so the "x" is now gone from our public vocabulary as it has been from our private vocabulary for quite a while already.  Side note, Charles *NEVER* used the "x" so now we're all speaking the same language as him.  Which is important since he is the one programming them
Ithikial_AU

[Preview] Community Scenario Pack - The Battle of Arracourt

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The Battle of Arracourt was one the largest armour clashes of the war. Elements from three fresh Panzer Brigades formed a spearhead that struck George Patton's US 3rd Army in the Lorraine region of France in mid-September 1944. CCA of the 4th Armored Division faced the counter attack across the rolling hilly areas around Arracourt from the 19th of September before petering out in a stalemate by the 29th of September. The US advance to the German border was halted for the time being, but at a cost of most of the Panzer reserve fresh from August production runs within Germany. The battle also solidified the 4th Armored Division as one of the premier forces of the US Army of World War 2.

Fun Fact: Mid-September operational Panzer strength across the western European front was estimated to be around 671 Panzers and StuG's, of which 390 were committed to the Lorraine fighting around Arracourt, compared to only 114 at Arnhem. (Zaloga)

The Lorraine campaign is somewhat overlooked within mainstream wargaming in favour of the more diverse array of forces for the concurrent Operation Market Garden to the north. This common interest in the armoured clashes in eastern France brought @Holdit, @Rinaldi, @Mad Mike, and @Ithikial_AU together to create a range of scenarios covering the main engagements from this period. Please note this is just four guys from the CM community and nothing to do with a BF Battlepack release.

The team is working away on some big maps and battalion(+) armored battles fought between CCA of the 4 Armored Division and Panzer Brigade 111 and 113.

Plans

- 8 Scenarios - To cover the fighting from the 18th of September (2nd Battle of Luneville) through to the fighting at Juvalize north east of Arracourt on the 23rd of September.

- Master Maps and Quick Battle Maps - From the scenarios above to allow you to 'slice and dice' in the editor for your own fights.

- (Possible) Campaign - A linear campaign option from the US point of view to track losses from CCA for those wanting more of a challenge.

- (Possible) H2H Multiplayer Campaign Tracker - Separate external setup (likely MS Excel based) to give the MP crowd a tracking system for those wanting to fight through the entire series of battles with their regular opponents.

- (Possible) Mods - A few mod-tagged mods to give it a bit more of the right 'feel'. (We need to check with the mod authors closer to the date).

 

Release: When it's done! However, Rinaldi already has a battle up for testing over at The Proving Grounds, get it here: http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/tpg2/cm-battle-for-normandy/duel-in-the-mist-2-0/

 

Feel free to ask any questions below and one of us will be along to answer them soon. Other than that please see a few preview pictures to make you hungry for tank on tank action. Oh and I hope you like fog. ;)

 

[Incomplete] South eastern approach to Luneville. Can the 2nd Cav "Pattons Ghosts" stop the Panthers and Panzergrenadier attack?

CM-Normandy-2016-12-08-20-55-08-67.jpg

From the other direction to give you a sense of the scale of this map from @Holdit.

CM-Normandy-2016-12-08-20-55-38-42.jpg

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[Incomplete] Eastern approach to Ley, north east of Arracourt is the one I'm currently working on. Site of the first tank duel on September 19th at dawn... in very dense fog. Anyone on the Beta team? Any idea about that graphical glitch for the bridges?

CM-Normandy-2016-12-08-20-57-02-20.jpg

 

From @Rinaldi, the village of Moncourt east of Arracourt and a rather risky tank attack in fading light by Col. Creighton Abrams.

CM-Normandy-2016-12-08-20-59-35-22.jpg

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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Hullo everyone, we're very excited to bring you this in the hopefully near future. To whet appetites I will be beginning a DAR shortly of "Duel in the Mist" - it has 5 fleshed out AI plans that even I can't remember at this point so it should be an interesting look into what we have planned.

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1 hour ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Any idea about that graphical glitch for the bridges?

I'm not on the beta team, but I've seen this full-brightness bug on various stuff in the game when there's fog involved. I reported it about a year ago.

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2 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Anyone on the Beta team? Any idea about that graphical glitch for the bridges?

 

33 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I'm not on the beta team, but I've seen this full-brightness bug on various stuff in the game when there's fog involved. I reported it about a year ago.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  A whole bunch of these issues were logged and fixed before (see above) and during testing but bridges were not in the mix.  If @Bulletpoint specifically reported bridges then we missed it.  If he didn't then we missed it. :D

I'll put it on my list...

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1 hour ago, IanL said:

If @Bulletpoint specifically reported bridges then we missed it.  If he didn't then we missed it. :D

I don't think I specifically mentioned bridges, because there were no bridges on the map I was playing at the time. I remember it as being about flavour objects and some other stuff that turned bright white and stood out in fog.

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2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I don't think I specifically mentioned bridges, because there were no bridges on the map I was playing at the time. I remember it as being about flavour objects and some other stuff that turned bright white and stood out in fog.

Just fired up "Nulli Secundus" from the BN Battle Pack and get that white effect for haystack, shed and telephone pole flavor objects. Latest patch.

Also: nice work gentlement, great effort :)

Edited by rocketman

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Great stuff -- thanks to the development team for putting this together!

Given that this set of scenarios is based a German counterattack, why would the campaign be from the US perspective? Indeed, wouldn't it be more "challenging" for the player to be the German attacker?

Thanks again!

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4 hours ago, PanzerMiller said:

Great stuff -- thanks to the development team for putting this together!

Given that this set of scenarios is based a German counterattack, why would the campaign be from the US perspective? Indeed, wouldn't it be more "challenging" for the player to be the German attacker?

Thanks again!

Fair question, fast and dirty:

1. The campaign is a definite maybe at best at present

2. The scenarios are first and foremost being designed for standalone

3. I can't speak with any certainty about the others' scenarios, but that means it being playable from either side is quite possible

4. The German counterattack was often anemic or downright farcical at most points, and the urgency was based more on their surprisingly large local superiority. The tactical situation also meant that the Americans were on the attack as often as the Germans - Moncourt traded hands several times, for example.

5. Speaking for my own two scenarios: The fighting by TF Abrams on Sept. 20th would simply not be entertaining for a German player - nor would it be a surmountable challenge without sacrificing historical accuracy. Something I'm not comfortable doing. The challenge in my scenarios come with their rather stringent force preservation conditions placed on the Americans (in one case, less than 10 percent losses allowed). Two playtesters swept the enemy from the field but were rated with Minor defeats several times because they took ludicrously lopsided casualties. Challenge comes in many forms :); and that being said not every scenario has to be teeth-gnashingly difficult for the player. I simply would not let someone play Duel in the Mist as Germans, as the designer, hence no American AI plans.

1 hour ago, Erwin said:

Hadn't noticed that obvious point.  But yes, +1.

See above.

Edited by Rinaldi
Spelling, additional point

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Rinaldi beat me too it. An American campaign would just really just be used for the casualty tracking/extra challenge rather than a branching structure that we are used to.

Despite the Germans utter lack of decent command and control in the region (and badly thought out offensive plans), the Americans were mostly on the reactionary footing for the entire time of the battle. They were constantly surprised when German armour came at them through the morning fog on multiple dayts. From my research I'd actually go as far to suggest at this stage they were over confident through to the 20th of September thinking the Germans had nothing to throw at them in the area, despite days of making contacts with German armour.  The afternoon / evening of Sept 20th that Rinaldi is covering with his two scenarios is the exception where the Americans were on the front foot. Regardlesss even here the 4th Armored never held onto the terrain captured for more than a few hours before pulling back.

I'll just add that when you look at the forces involved on the German side, not many of the formations were used multiple times in any great numbers. This is partly because they suffered attrocious losses to the 4th Armored in poorly coordinated attacks in less that optimal conditions each time a fresh force went into the attack, while in other cases poor coordinations meant forces earmarked for set piece attacks didn't make it to start lines for the kick off point in time.

 

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9 hours ago, Rinaldi said:

2. The scenarios are first and foremost being designed for standalone

3. I can't speak with any certainty about the others' scenarios, but that means it being playable from either side is quite possible

I personally always design for only one side - the attacker. Because the only way to make a defence scenario pose any kind of challenge is to either customise the map to offer huge disadvantages for the defender and/or to massively overpower the AI attacking force. Both options make it pointless to then switch sides, since the human player will not have any challenge at all.

In my view, the best way to balance a scenario for both sides is to simply make two separate versions of it.

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5 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I personally always design for only one side - the attacker. Because the only way to make a defence scenario pose any kind of challenge is to either customise the map to offer huge disadvantages for the defender and/or to massively overpower the AI attacking force.

With a few caveats not worth getting into, I generally agree. Duel in the Mist and its follow-up scenario was designed to be played as the Americans, whom are on the offensive. The Americans in reality basically had the ideal attacker's ratio to the Defenders, and with the exception of a nasty surprise that resulted in a fairly serious tank duel, the battle in reality went about as well as it could. I did my best to capture this. If a standalone scenario is a 'vignette' then why does have to be the Kobiyashi Maru?

I love a challenge (see: my Colossal Crack AAR) as an attacker, but there's room to put yourself into scenarios that aren't as desperate. Good examples of these are your own latest release against a German delaying action, or JonS's Battlepack, which featured similar small-scale actions.

Its part of the reason why I chose to do scenarios based on the 20th of September: one the Americans are attacking and two its a unique experience in CMBN - I don't think there's a single Battalion-level combined arms scenario currently out there for the Americans. Finally, Abrams is some pretty big shoes to fill, I put the same stringent expectations on the player that he put on himself. You'll get beat up in the score-card department if you feed men and machines into the grinder just to say "I killed all the Germans!"

Edited by Rinaldi

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1 hour ago, Rinaldi said:

The Americans in reality basically had the ideal attacker's ratio to the Defenders, and with the exception of a nasty surprise that resulted in a fairly serious tank duel, the battle in reality went about as well as it could. I did my best to capture this.

I'm sure that if you have a vision and design with passion (and plenty of patience), the result will be good. My comments were just general observations about attack and defence scenarios in this game.

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40 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I'm sure that if you have a vision and design with passion (and plenty of patience), the result will be good. My comments were just general observations about attack and defence scenarios in this game.

If you want a greater challenge don't play it as a stand alone scenario. If we manage to pull together a campaign that same force in Rinaldi's two scenarios has to survive three separate actions before then. Two of them are tank duels in fog. ;) Let's see if it's a cake walk after you get through that. :)

I agree with Rinaldi that not every scenario in CMx2 has to be a finely balanced encounter or a steep mountain to climb where you as a player can't make a single mistake. Good scenario design and victory point allocation can get around that. It's not very realistic in most cases either. No attacker would go in with a force that is equal in size and power to what is in front of him unless he had no other choice.

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5 minutes ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Two of them are tank duels in fog. ;) Let's see if it's a cake walk after you get through that. :)

I doubt it - my tank skills are atrocious :)

5 minutes ago, Ithikial_AU said:

I agree with Rinaldi that not every scenario in CMx2 has to be a finely balanced encounter or a steep mountain to climb where you as a player can't make a single mistake.

And I agree with you both. The problem about playing a defence is not so much that it's too easy (well, that too), but that it (usually) just feels like a turkey shoot.

Edited by Bulletpoint

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Thanks to all for this recent exchange...really insightful and helpful comments from you folks, as always. If I only had more time to put into this gem...

A relevant aside: What are the primary references you're using for scenario design?

Thanks again! Looking forward to the evolving product.

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17 minutes ago, PanzerMiller said:

Thanks to all for this recent exchange...really insightful and helpful comments from you folks, as always. If I only had more time to put into this gem...

A relevant aside: What are the primary references you're using for scenario design?

Thanks again! Looking forward to the evolving product.

Several sources. Most notably "Arracourt" a thesis paper for the Combined Arms school by Major Barnes, Hugh Cole's excellent "Lorraine Campaign" part of the US Army's WW 2 series and "Patton versus the Panzers" by Zaloga. 

Don Fox's 4AD history was also used extensively by me, as well as the 37th Armor Battalion's Combat Diary. 

Edited by Rinaldi

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9 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I doubt it - my tank skills are atrocious :)

And I agree with you both. The problem about playing a defence is not so much that it's too easy (well, that too), but that it (usually) just feels like a turkey shoot.

Not sure how much you know about the battles during this week but I don't think that will happen here. (Particularly in H2H play). Many of the battles will be in fog which cuts down visibility dramatically and makes tank warfare a whole different challenge than the usual fields. The other matter is that most of the US forces on the defence only have 75mm guns and you're going up against Panthers. Good luck with the turkey shoot if you go front on with them as they advance. We've agonised over how many of the newer 76mm Shermans had actually arrived to the 37th Armored Battalion in particular. There's also the first of the Luneville battles where you've got a Cavalry squadron going up against Panthers. The US player here will have to be incredibly careful here about who he takes on and lets slips through to the city behind him (for the next battle) if he wants to win the scenario.

7 hours ago, PanzerMiller said:

Thanks to all for this recent exchange...really insightful and helpful comments from you folks, as always. If I only had more time to put into this gem...

A relevant aside: What are the primary references you're using for scenario design?

Thanks again! Looking forward to the evolving product.

Again Rinaldi beat me to it again. Zaloga's new book that Rinaldi has mentioned in particular is a good easy read.

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9 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

The other matter is that most of the US forces on the defence only have 75mm guns and you're going up against Panthers. Good luck with the turkey shoot if you go front on with them as they advance.

I remember one of the missons from Scottish Corridor I knocked out a Tiger frontally with a 57mm gun :)

In any case, at close ranges the Panthers usually get hit on the mantlet, knocking out the main gun. Happens all the time in my games.

But again, I'm not saying your campaign wont be great. It's just extremely difficult to make good (enjoyable) scenarios with the AI on the attack, that's all. In my humble opinion.

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This is great news.  New player-made, historically-based scenarios are always welcome.  Plus, I read Zaloga's book last year on the Arracourt battles and CMBN's paucity of scenarios on that fight was disappointing.  So, it's terrific that the biggest tank battle the U.S. Army fought before the Bulge will finally get some love in CMBN world.

This project reminds me of the one various player scenario designers did for CMBB in which they made and released a Stalingrad scenario/operations pack which featured fights from that epic campaign: intense city fighting, the Soviet armored assault upon the Romanians, and Manstein's desperate relief effort in the snow.  It really was a neat idea and that pack had some great scenarios/operations.

SPOILERS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did try out the single player test version of Duel in the Mist.  Loved the map and the overall design, but the scenario author was right that the American player won't have too much trouble.  However, a little bit of trouble would have been nice.  I stopped after 40 minutes when it appeared that I was already in mop-up territory.  Due to the scenario length, I took my sweet-time.    Since I saw no reason to rush any objectives, I just sat my armor back in company lines and slowly developed the German defenses.  A German armored counter-attack blundered right into the sights of an entire company of Shermans and was blasted to kingdom come.  They lost seven tanks in less than two minutes and only managed to damage one of mine.  [Yeah, the veteran 4th Armored (it did earn its nickname "Patton's Best" for good reasons) really got a twist on green German panzer units in the Arracourt battles so it's probably pretty reflective of the actual battle.]

Further, the 4.0 upgrade appears to have made things a bit tougher for the defense.  Harassing artillery fire upon Ley had the Germans abandoning their positions.  I caught numerous German teams out in the open.  Other players have noticed this behavior as well with the 4.0 TacAI maybe prematurely displacing from good defensive cover and running into the view (and sights) of the enemy.  If this really is an issue with the 4.0 TacAI then it's troubling for single players and it certainly undermined this scenario's challenge.

Edited by Myles Keogh

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16 minutes ago, Myles Keogh said:

 

SPOILERS:

[Snipped]

Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to playtest, I'm glad you enjoyed the scenario. You lucked out and got the 'least historical' of the AI plans - the counterattack was added at the request of a few testers but unfortunately it ends precisely how it would; with total and complete disaster given the situation. If I must be candid I'm not a fan of its inclusion and I think its the most poorly constructed of my AI plans.

If its any consolation re: difficulty, Duel In the Mist has been re-done after some reading, re-reading and re-re-reading and the creation of a mastermap. I think I have an even better understanding of German dispositions and expectations placed on the American commander and this should make for a longer, larger and more difficult scenario regarding potential for ambushes and expectations for force preservation, so on and so forth.

The new version will be published after the much-belated and promised AAR is posted. I'm a dozen minutes in and will start a thread showcasing the scenario when I have a comfortable head-start.

 

Edited by Rinaldi

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This project sounds awesome! Almost like a community made battle pack. Very much looking forwards to its completion. 

I also like the attention to historical accuracy. I agree that not every scenario needs to be extremely challenging for the sake of challenging. In fact, many times I prefer a battle to be as historically accurate/realistic as possible, because I like seeing it all play out more than I like playing someones cleverly designed puzzle. Even if one side has the clear advantage. 

Keep up the good work!

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5 hours ago, IICptMillerII said:

This project sounds awesome! Almost like a community made battle pack. Very much looking forwards to its completion. 

I also like the attention to historical accuracy. I agree that not every scenario needs to be extremely challenging for the sake of challenging. In fact, many times I prefer a battle to be as historically accurate/realistic as possible, because I like seeing it all play out more than I like playing someones cleverly designed puzzle. Even if one side has the clear advantage. 

Keep up the good work!

On some points we're probably being a little bit too nuts on the historical accuracy and tweaking - like trying to sort out how many 76mm Shermans were involved (which granted is pretty important when going up against Panthers). The OOB is still not fully finalised, but it's getting close I think.

13 hours ago, Myles Keogh said:

This is great news.  New player-made, historically-based scenarios are always welcome.  Plus, I read Zaloga's book last year on the Arracourt battles and CMBN's paucity of scenarios on that fight was disappointing.  So, it's terrific that the biggest tank battle the U.S. Army fought before the Bulge will finally get some love in CMBN world.

Zaloga's latest on Arracourt is a good read and definately a key source for me and is easy to follow. Having lots of maps is also a great - why a whole bunch of other historians don't do this is beyond me. It's bugged me a little that the September Lorraine fighting has been ignored by many wargames over the years given it's importance given it soaked up so much German armour while other key operations like Market Garden were occuring. For instance, imagine if all these armour vehicles were instead deployed against the Allied forces in the Netherlands at this time? The demise of the 1st British Airborne could have been extended to include the two US Airborne Divisions as well, not to mention the intense pressure on XXX Corps' own armoured forces.

Rinaldi and Mad Mike have also found some good primary source material which is making us question what we've already got down 'on paper' from these secondary sources. The latest to stand out is a copy of the Panzer Brigade Formation documents from 1944 showing planned tank strength and what was possible. (In German, so I may be interpretting it wrong). Looking at the numbers involved you can see why the likes of General Guderian were not in favour of Panzer Brigades given the drain they'd bring to replenishing his existing Panzer Divisions after the summer offensives. At the moment trying to finalise exact numbers of Panthers and Pazner IV's available in both PzBrig 111 and 113 as of Sept the 18th 1944.

On 10/12/2016 at 6:47 PM, Bulletpoint said:

I remember one of the missons from Scottish Corridor I knocked out a Tiger frontally with a 57mm gun :)

In any case, at close ranges the Panthers usually get hit on the mantlet, knocking out the main gun. Happens all the time in my games.

But again, I'm not saying your campaign wont be great. It's just extremely difficult to make good (enjoyable) scenarios with the AI on the attack, that's all. In my humble opinion.

It is possible but difficult. I still have (good wargaming) nightmares of the Scottish Corridor campaign at going up against those Panthers.

The mantlet tactic was widely used once the Panther exploit was discovered and it's good to see the game take that into account. One problem though is the Panzer Brigades were kitted out with the latest production run of Panthers that came off the factory floor in August, so we're talking Pz V Ausf G's in these battles. I think the mantlet flaw were resolved to some extent by then.

It is difficult to program an effective AI attack plan, but there's a few things in our favour which ramps up the difficulty and gives the German AI and edge without 'cheating/moving away from history':

- The weather. Most CMx2 made armour fights have been designed / replicated from historical fights that have occured on a clear summer's day. (Like you'd expect). Not finalised but I think every fight has at least Mist weather condition setting, though in many cases it will be fog/heavy fog. Not ideal tank conditions for sure but the Germans used the weather and proceeded to attack through it knowing Allied aircraft would be out of the picture. (Well... not counting 'Bazooka Charlie').

- Poor initial American placement / defences. The 4th Armored Division and General Patton himself who visited Arracourt during the battle were persistently of the opinion that the German armoured counter attack was localised and 'finished' after each day of fighting. (IRC I think a couple of Battalion level inteligive officers felt otherwise but were overrulled). They thought the German attack on Luneville on the 18th Sept was an isloated occurence. They never knew a second Pz Brigade was in front of them until it attacked on Sept the 19th. Even on the 20th after two days of heavy tank engagements all along their front, they still thought it was over and proceeded to kick off with their planned push to the north east which allowed German armour to attack CCA Headquarters/Rear areas virtually unopposed except for some engineers, headquarters staff and artillery batteries who had yet to move out.

- Linked to the above, the composition of forces involved. The Germans went in with a full battalion of albiet 'Green' Panthers on September the 19th, but the Americans only had largely 75mm Shermans on hand to deal with them. The compositions are historically accurate but not 'gamey' where a player would naturally stock up on 76mm Shermans if they knew what they were up against.

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